One of the things that we love in Italy is finding beautiful places which are off the tourist trail. Our options are limited at the moment because we don’t have a car.
However, one of the places we can reach by local bus is Castell’Arquato, which is breathtakingly beautiful. It also has the added advantage of being in middle of a large wine producing region.
A Little History …
Castell’Arquato is an Italian town located on the first hills of Val D’Arda in the province of Piacenza, in Emilia-Romagna, approximately 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Piacenza and 35 kilometres (22 miles) from Parma, so it is easily accessible as a day trip from either town.
The origins of Castell’Arquato are uncertain. It is believed that it originated as a Roman military settlement. During the Roman Imperial Era it developed into a small rural town, thanks to its position commanding the routes from Piacenza and Parma toward the Ligurian Sea (Liguria is at the end of the Piacenza valley).
The Village And The Wines …
The old town is the same as when it was built in the early 10th century. The old town is built winding down a lane from the rock at the top, which contains the castle which in other times was strategically important for dominating the valley, and is now surrounded by the village.
We decided to start at the top to take in the views near the castle. This is because temperatures here are currently nudging 30 degrees during the day. Please don’t hate me if you’re reading this in England as I’ve just looked at the forecast there!
It is not often that I am lost for words, as many people will confirm. However, Castell’Arquato is a picture postcard of a typical northern Italian village. At the top of the village in the the Monumental Square the three powers of the Middle Ages are represented: religious power (the Collegiate), military power (the Rocca), political power (the Palazzo del Podestà).
Castell’Arquato is also in the area of the Colli Piacentini (Piacenza Hills), an important area for wine production. The most important wines produced in the Colli Piacentini are Gutturnio, Bonarda, Ortrugo, Malvasia, which I’ve already blogged about.
However at the wine festival we also got to taste the other important wine of the region – Monterosso Val d’Arda. I’ll tell you more about that and the wine festival in part 2 of this blog next week!